Surge in at­tacks on class teach­ers

Vic­tim I fear what each day will bring

Sunday Mail (UK) - - Front Page - Craig McDon­ald

Teach­ers have faced 16,000 at­tacks in Scot land’s class­rooms over the last three years.

Shock­ing sta­tis­tics re­vealed an up­ward trend in vi­o­lent in­ci­dents.

Teach­ers have faced a shock­ing rise in class­room as­saults by vi­o­lent pupils, the Sun­day Mail can re­veal.

Alarm­ing fig­ures show they have been tar­geted in 16,000 at­tacks over the last three years.

The num­ber rose by al­most 10 per cent last year and is set for a sim­i­lar in­crease this year.

In March 2017, it was re­vealed that a pri­mary school head had been left “blood­ied” by a pupil.

Janette Black re­quired hos­pi­tal treat­ment after the as­sault at Springhill and Auchen­back Pri­mary in Bar­rhead, near Glas­gow.

Some teach­ers claim the con­tro­ver­sial pol­icy of in­clu­sion – where dif­fi­cult pupils are taught in main­stream schools – is con­tribut­ing to the rise.

They also blame in­ad­e­quate dis­ci­pline strate­gies, which in­clude hav­ing “restora­tive chats” with ag­gres­sive pupils.

Po­lice have been called in at least 265 cases – a small frac­tion of the in­ci­dents.

Sta­tis­tics ob­tained un­der free­dom of in­for­ma­tion leg­is­la­tion show there were 5940 as­saults on teach­ers recorded by Scot­land’s lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in 2016/17.

The num­ber rose to 6544 the fol­low­ing year.

Fig­ures for the 2018/19 ses­sion up to the end of Novem­ber show 3688 as­saults – mean­ing this year’s to­tal is on course to ex­ceed 7000.

The true num­ber will be in ex­cess of this as six coun­cils – in­clud­ing Fife, Scot­land’s third largest – failed to pro­vide fig­ures.

Most of the at­tacks oc­curred in pri­mary schools – al­though this sec­tor ac­counts for the largest num­ber of pupils over­all.

Ed­u­ca­tion ex­pert Pro­fes­sor Lind­say Pater­son said: “The per­cep­tion by many teach­ers that there’s some­thing of a cri­sis is borne out by these fig­ures.

“The num­ber of as­saults is al­ready high for this year and on the rise from pre­vi­ous years. Clearly some­thing is get­ting worse.” Con­cerned teach­ers have told of be­ing hit on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

One said: “We’re al­ready un­der huge pres­sure.

“When you fac­tor in phys­i­cal as­saults, you can see why teach­ers are de­sert­ing the pro­fes­sion in large num­bers and coun­cils are find­ing it dif­fi­cult to re­place them.”

De­spite the ris­ing num­ber of at­tacks, of­fi­cial fig­ures show the num­ber of pupils be­ing ex­cluded for as­saults fell by more than 50 per cent in a decade.

There were 44,794 ex­clu­sions in 2006/07 and 18,381 in 2016/17, the most re­cent pub­lished fig­ure, which in­cluded 1839 pupils ex­cluded for as­saults against staff.

It’s the lat­est rev­e­la­tions in a string of prob­lems fac­ing the pro­fes­sion. It was re­vealed on Fri­day that teach­ing union the Ed­u­ca­tional In­sti­tute of Scot­land (EIS) are to hold talks on whether to call a strike over pay. Unions want a 10 per cent rise.

A poll by the EIS this month showed more than 75 per cent of teach­ers fre­quently feel stressed be­cause of their work­load.

Teach­ers have said in­dis­ci­pline and the fear of be­ing at­tacked are their big­gest con­cerns.

One said: “I’ve been hit break­ing up a fight and had a pupil lash out when mildly re­buked over his be­hav­iour.

“When I’m go­ing in, I ’ m think­ing, ‘What will I have to face to­day?’”

We asked the 32 coun­cils for the num­ber of as­saults car­ried out by pupils on teach­ers in the past three years. East Loth­ian,

Falkirk, Fife, North La­nark­shire, West Dun­bar­ton­shire and the Western Isles did not give fig­ures.

South La­nark­shire Coun­cil said: “Our anal­y­sis shows the ma­jor­ity of vi­o­lent in­ci­dents in­volve pri­mary-aged chil­dren with ad­di­tional sup­port needs, with some chil­dren be­ing in­volved in mul­ti­ple in­ci­dents re­lat­ing to their ad­di­tional sup­port needs.

“We look closely to see what we can do to pre­vent a re­cur­rence and to of­fer sup­port to staff.”

Fig­ures last year showed at­tacks on teach­ers have al­most dou­bled in a year at an Ed­in­burgh school that is one of the most vi­o­lent in Scot­land.

There were 97 as­saults in 2018 on teach­ers at Kaimes School in Lib­er­ton, which is for chil­dren with ad­di­tional needs. It was also re­vealed this month that teach­ers had been paid al­most £250,000 in com­pen­sa­tion after at­tacks by pupils, as well as ac­ci­dents.

The EIS said one teacher had a £12,000 vi­o­lence claim awarded after be­ing tar­geted twice by pupils.

Scot­tish Greens’ co- con­venor Patrick Harvie last week pressed First Min­is­ter Ni­cola Stur­geon over coun­cil fund­ing cuts s in the Scot­tish bud­get, which he said risk wors­en­ing the sit­u­a­tion for kids with ad­di­tional sup­port needs.

He high­lighted fig­ures show­ing there are 15 per cent fewer spe­cial­ist ad­di­tional sup­port needs teach­ers com­pared to 2010, while the num­ber of pupils with ad­di­tional needs has more than dou­bled over the same pe­riod. EIS gen­eral sec­re­tary Larry Flana­gan said: “We’re alarmed to f ind sta­tis­tics have shown an in­crease in this type of in­ci­dent and the union are sub­mit­ting a mo­tion on this topic to the next STUC AGM.

“It’s es­sen­tial that when se­ri­ous in­ci­dents do oc­cur, they’re dealt with swiftly and firmly.

“This should in­clude po­lice in­volve­ment where a teacher has been phys­i­cal ly as­saulted or placed un­der se­vere threat.”

Liz Smith, Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive shadow ed­u­ca­tion sec­re­tary: “It’s com­pletely un­ac­cept­able that teach­ers are be­ing sub­jected to any vi­o­lence at all.

“Teach­ers are telling us that some of the prob­lem is cre­ated by the pol­icy of main­stream­ing. In far too many cases, this pol­icy is ad­versely af­fect­ing pupils, who are in un­suit­able en­vi­ron­ments, and the ed­u­ca­tion of other pupils.

“The strain this is putting on teach­ers is un­fair and the SNP must re­view this pol­icy ur­gently.”

Scot­tish Lib Dems ed­u­ca­tion spokesman Tav­ish Scott said: “For the good of teach­ers and pupils, there must be ap­pro­pri­ate sys­tems in place for re­mov­ing vi­o­lent chil­dren from class­rooms.”

Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tar y John Swin­ney said: “No teacher should have to suf­fer abuse in the work­place and we want all pupils to be­have in a re­spect­ful man­ner.

“Our re­freshed guid­ance on prevent­ing and manag­ing schools ex­clu­sions, pub­lished in June 2017, in­cludes guid­ance on manag­ing chal­leng­ing be­hav­iour.”

FEAR 75 per cent of teach­ers say they are stressed. Pic: Getty Images/ Ra­dius Images

AT­TACKED Janette. Left,Harvie

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